Now What? Oilers Need a Plan B

Sean LennieContributor IJuly 6, 2009

EDMONTON, AB - OCTOBER 4:  A general view shows the championship banners before the Edmonton Oilers game against the San Jose Sharks on October 4, 2007 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Tim Smith/Getty Images)

With the not so courteous antics of Dany Heatley and the possibility of an increase in price tag due to his $4 million dollar bonus, the Edmonton Oilers may have to start shopping elsewhere.

On Jul. 1, this would've been a much easier thing to do; however, the Oilers decided to wait for Heatley's decision.

In most cases, this would have been the right thing to do. But the almost bipolar personality of Heatley put a very quick halt to the progress the franchise thought they had made on Tuesday and Wednesday.

While this drama was unfolding, the major free agent options that the Oilers had for a similar type of first-line player were being snapped up by the other NHL teams who were all too happy to sign the likes of Hossa, Gaborik, Cammalleri, and probably the best fit of the bunch, Martin Havlat.

Still "the show must go on."

So, the question is asked again—now what?

The list of available top-six free agents has dropped significantly. Not only that, but part of the Heatley deal was sending at least $5 million in salary the other way.

Now the soon-to-be cap pressing Oilers have to find an alternative with a very small number of possible suitors

One fit might be unrestricted free agent LW Alex Tanguay. However, he has not played like his old self ever since being traded from Colorado, registering only 16 goals and 41 points in 50 games last season.

Another possibility would be C Saku Koivu.

He might fit in between Horcoff and Hemsky as our No. 1 center, shifting Horcoff—whose faceoff percentage has been less than ideal recently—to wing.

This would take some pressure off of Horcoff, however, he would be learning a new position which might hold him back. Also, Koivu's production has dropped off with last season, where he only scored 16 goals and 50 points in 65 games.

Finally, the last option that might fit the Oilers best would be to pursue a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers are pressed against the cap and need to trade some salary away.

Philly desperately wants to get rid of C Daniel Briere and his $6.5 million contract. However, no team in their right mind wants to deal for the small, injury prone forward.

Therefore, it's likely they'll have to keep him.

The Flyers' forward that would be the best fit in Edmonton, though, would be LW Simon Gagne. The high scoring left-winger had a great return from injury last season, posting 34 goals and 74 points in 79 games.

Also, he would come a tad cheaper than Heatley as Gagne's $5.25 million contract and lower profile mean that the Oilers would not have to give up as much as they would for Heatley.

The only major concerns with Gagne is whether or not he can remain healthy and make the transition to the west.

In any case, the Oilers will have to clear cap space in order to fit anyone else in, given that they have made offers to almost all of their restricted free agents.

They have less than $6 million dollars in cap space and nine RFAs unaccounted for, so Mr. Tambellini will have his work cut out for him.